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Ebola spreads to new territory

There's been an ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. With 122 cases so far, this is the worst outbreak since 2007's 264-case outbreak. The worst outbreak was 2000-2001's 425 cases. What makes this one different is the way it has spread so widely. [more inside]
posted by Sleeper on Apr 1, 2014 - 50 comments

 

a leap between kingdoms is not an everyday event

Suspicious Virus Makes Rare Cross-Kingdom Leap From Plants to Honeybees
When HIV jumped from chimpanzees to humans sometime in the early 1900′s, it crossed a gulf spanning several million years of evolution. But tobacco ringspot virus, scientists announced last week, has made a jump that defies credulity. It has crossed a yawning chasm ~1.6 billion years wide.
posted by andoatnp on Jan 31, 2014 - 37 comments

Sugar Cane Workers and Chronic Kidney Failure

In El Salvador and Nicaragua, Chronic Kidney Failure accounts for more deaths than HIV, diabetes, and leukemia combined. In affected communities, 69% of sugar cane workers are affected. "CKDu" is the second leading cause of death in El Salvador among men, and between 20 and 25 thousand men have died in the last 8 years of the disease. NYT Photos.
posted by thisisdrew on Jan 30, 2014 - 21 comments

Naturalis Historia

"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."
Naturalis Historia was written by Pliny the Elder between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger.
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification.
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 16, 2013 - 24 comments

Speech Aid for People Losing the Ability to Speak

Modeltalker has been around since at least the early 90s ... Modeltalker is a company that, for free, provides people with a synthetic version of their own voice and the software that lets users convert any text they want into that voice. It is continually updating it's software and in beta stages. But for people with onset neurological diseases that threaten to rob them of the ability to speak, Modeltalker will provide them with an 1800 word list to read. From that list, it will deliver a software program that contains their voice, the software and the tools to adjust the voice to make it as natural as possible. At some point, the company will make it product public. There are many synthetic voice programs, but only Modeltalker can make a synthetic voice out of your voice. For now, people can get a free version.
posted by CollectiveMind on Dec 12, 2013 - 13 comments

The 'grotesque beauty' of medieval Britons' diseased bones

Digitised Diseases is an open access resource featuring human bones which have been digitised using 3D laser scanning, CT and radiography. The resource focuses on a wide range of pathological type specimens from archaeological and historical medical collections, specifically examples of chronic diseases which affect the human skeleton for which many of the physical changes are often not directly observable within clinical practice. Of major interest to many will be high fidelity photo-realistic digital representations of 3D bones that can be viewed, downloaded and manipulated on their computer, tablet or smartphone. [more inside]
posted by shoesfullofdust on Dec 9, 2013 - 7 comments

“Hold a live Puppy constantly on the Belly.”

In the late 1740s, John Wesley—a British evangelist and the co-founder of Methodism—published Primitive Physick, or, An Easy and Natural Method of Curing Most Diseases. The tome gave regular people ways to cure themselves, using items they could find in their own homes. - Here are some of his suggested home remedies.
posted by The Whelk on Oct 29, 2013 - 56 comments

And so in 1632 seven men were left in Smeerenburg to wait out the winter

We tend to think now of scurvy as mainly a punch line, if anything—“scurvy-ridden rats” is the kind of popular pirate epithet that appears in even the most G-rated family fare. Partly this is because now, fully understanding its mechanism, it seems a particularly ridiculous problem. But ask anyone who's suffered from it: it is a singularly horrid and terrible way to die.
- The Spoil of Mariners, Colin Dickey, Lapham's Quarterly.
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Sep 29, 2013 - 28 comments

Censorship Doesn’t Just Stifle Speech—It Can Spread Disease

The Saudi Arabian government has been tight-lipped about the spread of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), a disease first discovered in 2012 that has "killed more than half of those who contracted it", "responding slowly to requests for information and preventing outside researchers from publishing their findings about the syndrome. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Aug 24, 2013 - 13 comments

What’s Killing Minnesota’s Moose?

The iconic monarch of the North Woods is dying at an alarming rate. Is it climate change, a brain-piercing parasite, or is something else to blame?
posted by brundlefly on Jul 26, 2013 - 40 comments

Obesity Reclassified as a Disease

The A.M.A. has officially recognized obesity as a disease. [more inside]
posted by astapasta24 on Jun 19, 2013 - 339 comments

The girl who turned to bone.

A rare disease is defined as any condition affecting fewer than 200,000 patients in the United States. More than 7,000 such diseases exist, afflicting a total of 25 million to 30 million Americans.. One of them, fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), might be approaching a cure. [more inside]
posted by dmd on May 24, 2013 - 21 comments

"I want to show that you can still be beautiful or sexy with cancer."

A day before her 32nd birthday, Jill Brzezinski-Conley was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. She's now 35, and her cancer has metastasized to terminal, stage-4. Sue Bryce won Australian Portrait Photographer of the Year in both 2011 and 2012, and last year's prize was a one-person trip to Paris. After hearing her story, Bryce took Brzezinski-Conley with her to the City of Light for a photo shoot and brought along a videographer. The resulting short film: "The Light That Shines." (Also on Vimeo.) Photos. (click the open magazine at the top of the page). The video and photos both show a topless Ms. Brzezinski-Conley, and may be nsfw. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 6, 2013 - 25 comments

A draft of the National Climate Assessment report has been released

...and the news ain't good: "Evidence for climate change abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans. This evidence has been compiled by scientists and engineers from around the world, using satellites, weather balloons, thermometers, buoys, and other observing systems. The sum total of this evidence tells an unambiguous story: the planet is warming." Overview letter is here, Executive Summary is here, and the full download is here. [WARNING: Full download runs to 147MB).
posted by BillW on Jan 13, 2013 - 195 comments

291 diseases and injuries + 67 risk factors + 1,160 non-fatal complications = 650 million estimates of how we age, sicken, and die

As humans live longer, what ails us isn't necessarily what kills us: five data visualizations of how we age, sicken, and die. Causes of death by age, sex, region, and year. Heat map of leading causes and risks by region. Changes in leading causes and risks between 1990 and 2010. Healthy years lost to disability vs. life expectancy in 1990 and 2010. Uncertainties of causes and risks. From the team for the massive Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2010. [more inside]
posted by hat on Dec 14, 2012 - 11 comments

Can Murder Be Tracked Like An Infectious Disease?

Researchers found that the pattern of murder in Newark, NJ is very similar in pattern to the spread of an infectious disease. Could this research show law enforcement a new way to predict where murders will occur?
posted by reenum on Dec 6, 2012 - 14 comments

Blogging About Parenting

Blogging about parenting. Little Seal is about Emily Rapp's son Ronan, who is 2 1/2 and has Tay-Sachs disease. Count on Rapp for a jolt of humanity and perspective amid the mundane. Her Bad Mother is Catherine Conners, a working mom devoted to her husband and children, who chronicles the ups and downs of parenting, balancing it all with humor and poignancy. She is not afraid to speak out against mothers who believe that their way is the best way to raise kids. These blogs are among the 25 Best Blogs 2012 per Time magazine.
posted by netbros on Oct 23, 2012 - 4 comments

Pertussis Epidemic — Washington, 2012

Since mid-2011, a substantial rise in pertussis [Whooping Cough] cases has been reported in the state of Washington. In response to this increase, the Washington State Secretary of Health declared a pertussis epidemic on April 3, 2012. By June 16, the reported number of cases in Washington in 2012 had reached 2,520 (37.5 cases per 100,000 residents), a 1,300% increase compared with the same period in 2011 and the highest number of cases reported in any year since 1942 [Make sure you don't miss Figure 1]. Commentators are already drawing corellations with the fact that Washington State leads the nation in vaccine non-compliance, Washington State's recent cutbacks in public health funding, and increases in the number of uninsured (PDF). [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Sep 27, 2012 - 111 comments

Pyridomycin: nature's isoniazid

Drug-resistant and "extensively" resistant strains make containment and treatment of tuberculosis ever more difficult. Fortunately, researchers based in Switzerland have (re-)discovered a naturally-made antibiotic called pyridomycin, which will kill isoniazid-resistant M. tuberculosis bacteria.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Sep 21, 2012 - 31 comments

Supercut: Apocalypse

The world has ended many times - a supercut of apocalyptic visions.
posted by Happy Dave on Sep 7, 2012 - 55 comments

“Sometimes I wonder if it’s something that I’m doing: did I do something wrong?”

Venus Williams, learning to live with a chronic illness. [NYTimes.com] "Singing replaced swinging; karaoke became her way to cope. Williams said this Monday, in a quiet moment at the French Open, inside a windowless room beneath the courts. Since doctors told her she had Sjögren’s syndrome, an incurable autoimmune disease, last year at the United States Open, everything has changed. Williams says she wakes up each morning unsure of how she will feel."
posted by Fizz on May 30, 2012 - 31 comments

Avery SMAvery!

Imagine you've been diagnosed with an incurable genetic disease and you are told you will not only lose your ability to walk and move your arms, but you will die between now and the next 18 months. What would you do? My name is Avery Lynn Canahuati, I'm almost 5 months old, and this has become my reality. [more inside]
posted by zizzle on May 1, 2012 - 133 comments

Sure, let's meet the meat

IBM is currently putting together database and barcode tracking to allow farmers and grocers in China to track your porkchop, from the pig to the plate. Using supply chain tracking (similar to what is done already in other industries), the goal is to limit and hopefully prevent disease outbreaks by tracking the health of the animal, including which other animals it has come into contact with. So the next time you sit down for some nice ham, you might be able to scan the barcode (or RFID tag) to see whom else on your block shares your own porcine six degrees of separation. [more inside]
posted by Old'n'Busted on Dec 19, 2011 - 21 comments

Slugs: not as delicious as they seem!

NYTimes warns: Do not eat slugs! A 21-year old Australian man is seriously ill after ingesting two garden slugs on a dare. The causative organism is Angiostrongylus cantonensis which leads to eosinophilic meningitis. [more inside]
posted by genmonster on Dec 10, 2011 - 65 comments

"But still, polycythaemia vera – what was that? A disease that sounded like a Greek goddess spliced with an East End pub-landlady..."

Will Self: The trouble with my blood. [The Guardian] Diagnosed with a rare blood disease, author Will Self has to endure weekly 'venesections' in hospital. He reflects on illness, addiction and mortality. [Will Self - Previously].
posted by Fizz on Oct 21, 2011 - 28 comments

Biting back at Malaria...

A new malaria vaccine has been shown effective in large-scale field trials. After decades of disappointment, researchers think they're finally on track to unleash the first practical vaccine against malaria, one of mankind's ancient scourges. In the world's first large field trial of an experimental malaria vaccine, several thousand young children who got three doses had about 55 percent less risk of getting the disease over a year than those who got a control vaccine against rabies or meningitis. [more inside]
posted by BobbyVan on Oct 18, 2011 - 21 comments

I really dig infectious diseases (much to the dismay of those dining with me).

How did hookworm infections slow the economy of the postbellum South? Do body mites play a role in diseases such as rosacea? Did fermenting seal flippers in Tupperware instead of traditional containers increase Native Alaskan botulism rates? Body Horrors is the blog of microbiologist Rebecca Kreston, who aims to explore the intersection of infectious diseases, the human body, public health and anthropology.
posted by emjaybee on Sep 24, 2011 - 36 comments

Surviving Survival

The Summer 2011 issue of Stanford Medicine Magazine is about "Surviving Survival": The Woman Who Fell To Earth / Khmer Rouge on Trial / A Kid Again / Her Stroke of Insight / RxErcise [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 16, 2011 - 11 comments

Disappearing Vultures

India's vultures are vanishing. Populations of three species on the sub-continent have plummeted since the 1980s from 50 million to less than 60,000. Their disappearance could lead to widespread increase in human diseases.
posted by binturong on Jul 5, 2011 - 24 comments

And the band played on, for there was good news to share.

An NIH clinical trial has shown that early treatment of HIV with antiretroviral drugs reduces the odds of the virus being transmitted to an uninfected sexual partner by 96%, with only one new HIV case recorded out of the 1,763 couples participating in the trial.
posted by schmod on May 12, 2011 - 31 comments

Photographic Immortality

The Burns Archive is a collection of over 700,000 historical photographs that document disturbing subject matter: obsolete medical practices and experiments, death, disease, disasters, crime, revolutions, riots and war. Newsweek posted a select gallery this past October, as well as a video interview and walk-through with curator and collector Dr. Stanley B. Burns, a New York opthalmologist. (Via) (Content at links may be disturbing to some.) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 26, 2011 - 15 comments

master of information

The New Biology - Eric Schadt's quest to upend molecular biology and open source it. (via)
posted by kliuless on Apr 9, 2011 - 35 comments

Happy 65th birthday to the MRC birth cohort of 1946

Epidemiology: Study of a lifetime. "In 1946, scientists started tracking thousands of British children born during one cold March week. On their 65th birthday, the study members find themselves more scientifically valuable than ever before." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 21, 2011 - 7 comments

More Americans are Surviving Cancer

According to new data released by the CDC yesterday, more Americans are surviving cancer thanks to advances in increased early detection and treatment. CDC analysis shows an unprecedented 20% increase in survival rates between 2001 and 2007, which is nearly a quadruple increase since 1971. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 11, 2011 - 27 comments

Coach Walt

Wake Forest University's slogan for their baseball team in 2011 is 'What are you willing to sacrifice to help make this team better?' "Head coach Tom Walter's intent was to have his players thinking about sacrifice bunts, moving runners over, and giving up personal glory to help the Demon Deacons improve as a team. But what Walter chose to sacrifice is greater than simply hanging in on a curve ball and taking one for the team. Walter gave up a kidney." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 13, 2011 - 6 comments

The hollowing out of the countryside

Burial & Flight I BEGAN THIS SERIES TEN YEARS AGO in rural Kenya. When I started photographing, I thought I was working on a localized story about how HIV was destroying African society. Over the years, as I broadened my travels to China and Mexico, I began to see similarities in the composition of villages wherever I went. Only later did I fully realize that the quiet moments I documented in the African bush, Mexican plains, and majestic Chinese mountains represented small pieces of a great shift.
posted by metagnathous on Dec 17, 2010 - 5 comments

Good News for Pregnant Needlephobes....

Invasive amniocentesis and chorionic villi sampling (CVS) tests are commonly used to determine the chromosomal, structural and genetic abnormalities in fetuses. But could they eventually become obsolete? A Chinese study has found that a complete copy of the fetal genome exists in the mother's blood, suggesting many prenatal diagnoses could potentially be performed noninvasively. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 8, 2010 - 30 comments

Do bears still shit in the woods?

The Pope approves the use of condoms
posted by Artw on Nov 20, 2010 - 180 comments

An end to your rinderpestiferous activities

The UN's FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) have announced that they believe rinderpest, an frequently fatal viral disease that affects livestock and wild ruminants, to have been eliminated. This is only the second virus, after smallpox, to have been wiped out. The BBC and the Guardian discuss the story in brief, and Science has a slightly more in-depth look at it. The FAO themselves have put up an interesting history of the disease and its treatment.
posted by Dim Siawns on Oct 15, 2010 - 17 comments

Study Answers and Raises Questions About HIV Virus and Origins

The HIV ancestor virus, SIV, has been around much longer than previously thought. The NY Times notes: "And that assumption in turn complicates a question that has bedeviled AIDS scientists for years: What happened in Africa in the early 20th century that let a mild monkey disease move into humans, mutate to become highly transmissible and then explode into one of history’s great killers, one that has claimed 25 million lives so far?" [more inside]
posted by questionsandanchors on Sep 16, 2010 - 61 comments

Parasites wreck the brain?

Parasites may affect brain function: Toxoplasmosis is a famous example. Now researchers have proposed that country-by-country differences in IQ can be explained, in part, by parasite burden.
posted by jjray on Jul 1, 2010 - 44 comments

Have a bite of this...

Bushmeat stew: complexities of a shadowy trade. Illegal bushmeat (estimated 270 tons a year) 'rife in Europe' Bushmeat, or wild-animal meat, has been part of the traditional diet of many forest-dwelling African people. It is found to introduce disease and might well be more common than you think. (wiki; related)
posted by adamvasco on Jun 18, 2010 - 20 comments

"A Minute With Venus... A Year With Mercury!"

"During World War I, the [US] Army lost 7 million person-days and discharged more than 10,000 men because they were ailing from STDs. Once Penicillin kicked in in the mid-1940s, such infections were treatable. But as a matter of national security, the military started distributing condoms and aggressively marketing prophylactics to the troops in the early 20th century." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 1, 2010 - 45 comments

The Ban on Blood Donation

Are the Rules That Determine Who Can Donate Blood Discriminatory? Canadian AIDS researchers Dr. Mark Wainberg and Dr. Norbert Gilmore say that while the ban on blood donation from men who have sex with other men may have been ethically and scientifically justified in the 1980's, it no longer makes sense. (CMAJ.) Even though the US FDA reaffirmed their long-standing ban in 2007, they plan to revisit the policy in June. [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 26, 2010 - 69 comments

Meat and veg? Veg and meat! (No chocolate biscuit.)

Atkins was right?! According to a meta-study of nearly 350,000 people, "there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of (heart disease) or (vascular disease)... However, replacement with a higher carbohydrate intake, particularly refined carbohydrate, can exacerbate ... insulin resistance and obesity that includes increased triglycerides, small LDL particles, and reduced HDL cholesterol. Dietary efforts to improve ... (cardiovascular disease) risk ... should primarily emphasize the limitation of refined carbohydrate intakes and (losing weight)." [more inside]
posted by markkraft on May 12, 2010 - 207 comments

A Few Hundred People Turned to Bone.

"Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is an extremely rare disease of the connective tissue. A mutation of the body's repair mechanism causes fibrous tissue (including muscle, tendon, and ligament) to be ossified when damaged. In many cases, injuries can cause joints to become permanently frozen in place. Surgical removal of the extra bone growths has been shown to cause the body to "repair" the affected area with more bone."^ Detailed in an article from The Atlantic, February 1998. Part 1. Part 2. [more inside]
posted by vapidave on Apr 7, 2010 - 18 comments

What if I haven’t earned my wings?

With 12-year old Maggie Wiederholt's permission, Quad City Times reporter Kay Luna and photographer John Schultz followed her and her family for several weeks as the terminally ill Walcott, Iowa girl faced death - and made choices about how to live.

Maggie's Choice is a heart-wrenching project that captures the last days of a young girl with with a rare form of Behcet's disease. [more inside]
posted by Lutoslawski on Apr 6, 2010 - 33 comments

Defying the FDA, Doctors in Colorado Offer Stem Cell Therapies for Joint Diseases

The FDA has yet to approve stem cell therapies for general use in medicine, but that hasn’t stopped doctors in Colorado from providing them anyway. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 17, 2010 - 50 comments

Third-world (and first) diagnosis under $0.01

Detecting a handful of diseases with comic book ink and a postage stamp (well, not quite, but the technology is related to the ink and it's on a postage stamp sized piece of paper). What's best is that the result is a simple visual that can be sent to doctors far away for recognition.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out on Mar 6, 2010 - 16 comments

Iconography of Contagion

About a hundred years ago, public health took a visual turn. In an era of devastating epidemic and endemic infectious disease, health professionals began to organize coordinated campaigns that sought to mobilize public action through eye-catching wall posters, illustrated pamphlets, motion pictures, and glass slide projections. An Iconography of Contagion.
posted by Fuzzy Monster on Feb 28, 2010 - 18 comments

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